When you think of words to describe film directors, a number of adjectives come to mind; creative, authoritative, perhaps even visionary. While all of these most certainly describe Great Britain’s Christopher Nicholson, one which uniquely applies to him is altruistic. Among his long list of acclaimed credits are a number of projects which both illuminate the needs of others and provide assistance and experience to individuals who are better for it. As a founding member of the Directors Charitable Foundation as well as a former board member of the Directors Guild of Great Britain before it merged with Directors UK, Nicholson has found time to create remarkable films while laying a foundation for those wishing to follow in his footsteps.
The Prince’s Trust is a UK charity founded by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, to support vulnerable and disadvantaged young people who are not in education or full-time training. In 2011, Christopher used his talent and connections to benefit The Prince’s Trust by supplying the chance of a lifetime and springboard to careers with the Comedy/Horror/Thriller Don’t Call Back. Specifically, he partnered a group of some twenty young people with the cast and crew of this film. These young hopefuls received on-the-job training from elite professionals in the industry. To ensure that every participant was allowed to gravitate to their interests as well as gain an overview of the filmmaking process, a core design to this project was that of openness, exposing them to the many departments involved in telling the story. To this end, the experience culminated in much more than a full-length comedic zombie feature film; each young person left with a professional screen credit, life-skills, and a new sense of hope. The director relates, “Once the film was complete, I leveraged the credit each young person had earned to secure fourteen of them their first paid employment within the film industry. These entry-level jobs were career-staring professional openings; in all reality an opportunity that none of the young people would have been able to generate for themselves if it were not for this project. This project greatly excited me as a filmmaker. Not only was it an insurmountable challenge to create a film with so many inexperienced people working on it, it also appealed to my sense of community and was a chance for me to “send the elevator back down.”
Don’t Call Back embraces the Zombie genre while making a very amusing social comment. Set in an “the office from hell” where a secret Government experiment is being carried out to change self-aware office workers into autonomous zombies who solely focus on their work and nothing else; there’s as much to fear in not truly “living” your life goals as with the undead themselves. The comedic opportunities in the setting are gratifying while surprizes are delightfully unexpected. For example, when a young office worker is rehearsing her version of the number one hit song by the UK band Right Said Fred “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt” for a talent show, the end credits feature the actual band performing the song in a cameo for this film, accompanied by the cast of the film still in character, with many of them having now been transformed into zombies! Remarkably, Christopher developed Don’t Call Back without using any of the Trust’s financial resources and thus causing no impact on its work in other fields. In addition to a fine film and the gratitude of those involved, Nicholson was honoured to receive a personal commendation from His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, in recognition of his efforts.
Homelessness is an issue close to Christopher’s heart. Crisis is a UK charity which provides assistance for thousands struggling to rebuild their lives and escape this situation. Nicholson created a Pro-Bono commercial for the organizations “Crisis at Christmas”, utilizing Molinare’s (London) ground-breaking virtual studio. Using the facility to push the limitations of technology, the director cast the lead role with an actual member of the homeless community rather than an actor and designed his script with a very positive message. In his typical style of zero impact to the charitable groups he works with, Christopher secured airtime with a value of up to £2.5m at no charge whatsoever to the charity. The commercial being aired on both national TV and in cinemas throughout the UK to massive response. Once again, this acclaimed director proved that making a positive difference does not coincide with making a personal profit. In giving his best to those without expected compensation, Nicholson not only set a professional standard but a philanthropic one as well.